Sunday, November 21, 2010


“በውኑ ሴት ከማኅፀንዋ ለተወለደው ልጅ እስከማትራራ ድረስ ሕፃንዋን ትረሳ ዘንድ ትችላለችን?
 አዎን፥ እርስዋ ትረሳ ይሆናል፥ እኔ ግን አልረሳሽም።”

There are moments when you keep on hearing a word or a phrase or an idea repeatedly on different occasions or situations that it feels like a déjà-vous carrying a message that is meant for you to comprehend. It is this verse that has lately being slinking in my mind and  yesterday I unusually got various calls from friends whom I have not spoken for a long time.
Friends are gifts from God; his way of making his voice heard. If you think about it what better way will there be to touch our heart except through the words of good friends. These friends of mine were not aware of the situation that the other person called but all had the same topic.
Lately I have slowly reduced my service in church and had always felt the guilt as days goes by. The concern-topic of my friend was all about spiritual service and what should be done to help improve our spiritual life and our service. God speaks in one way or another, even though it was said about Zion this verse makes perfect sense to any one that God will never forget his children and reveals his remembrance through the words of our loved once or friends.
No matter how distant and how lost we feel,He will always find us ,no matter how hopeless we feel about ourselves He will comfort us and no matter how much we forget Him ,He will always remember us.

St Micheal Feast Day Hedar 12 from the ETHIOPIAN SYNAXARIUM

On this day is celebrated the festival of the honored angel, Michael the archangel, the head of the hosts of heaven, the angel who is merciful to the children of men, who standeth at all times before the great throne of God speaking on behalf of the children of man. Joshua the son of Nun saw him in great glory like unto that of a general of the king’s army, and he was frightened at him and fell down and made obeisance unto him, and said unto him, “Omy lord, art thou on our side or on the side of the enemy?” And Michael said unto him, “I am the tenth of the Chiefs of the mighty armies of heaven, and this day I will give Amalek into thy hand, and I will make thee king in the city of Jericho.” This angel it was who was with all the saints and martyrs, and he made them strong and enabled them to endure patiently until they finished their strife, [and it is meet] that festivals of commemoration should be held, and gifts offered in his name on the twelfth day of each month, for he beseecheth God for the fruits of the earth, and the descent of the rains, and the [flooding of the] rivers, and for good souls so that God may make perfect all of them in integrity. Now, there was a certain God-fearing man whose name was Dorotheus, and [he had a] wife whose name was Theopista, and they were wont to make festivals of commemoration for the honored angel Michael. And all the money of these righteous folk came to an end, and they had nothing wherewith to celebrate the commemoration of the honored Michael. And because they were exceedingly sorrowful about this they took their apparel to sell so that they might make a feast. And Michael the archangel appeared unto Dorotheus and commanded him to go to a sheep-master and to take from him a sheep worth one-third of a dinar. And he was also to go to a fisherman and to take from him a fish worth one-third of a dinar, and he was not to slit the belly thereof except inside the house. And he was also to go to a flour merchant, and to take from him as much flour as he wanted. And the angel said, “Do this, and do not sell thy raiment”; and Dorotheus did as the angel commanded
him. And he summoned all the people according to his custom, and he made a feast in honor of the angel Michael. When he had gone into his store-chamber to see if, peradventure, he could find a jar of wine for the Offering, he found the interior of his chamber filled with wine, and much flour; and Dorotheus was frightened and he marveled exceedingly. When he had ministered unto all the company, and they had finished the feast, and all the people had departed to their houses, the honored angel appeared unto the blessed Dorotheus in the garb wherein he had appeared unto him before, and commanded him to cut open the belly of the fish. When he had cut open the belly of the fish he found therein three hundred dinars of gold, and three third parts of a dinar. And the archangel Michael said unto Dorotheus and his wife, “Set aside these three third parts of a dinar for the sheep, the fish, and the flour, and these three hundred dinars shall be for your own needs. God hath remembered you and the alms and oblations which ye have been wont to make, and hath rewarded you for the same here in this world, and at the last day He will make you to inherit the kingdom of heaven.” And as they were frightened at this matter he said unto them, “I am Michael the archangel who hath delivered you from all your tribulation, and it is I who have loved your alms and oblations, and have taken them up to God. Henceforward ye shall lack no good thing whatsoever in this world.” And they prostrated themselves before him, and he disappeared and went up into heaven. And the angel Michael worked so many miracles that they are innumerable. Salutation to thee, O merciful angel Michael whom I have feared from my youth up; hide me under thy prayers at dawn and at eve.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

O Onion, Onion! What’d I do without thou?

Onion is one of those ingredients that give a very savory taste and aroma to many dishes. Cooked or raw onion gives good taste to a food. Even thought a lot could be said about that my intention here is not to praise the very nature of onion but to express my concern on our addiction – that is right, I call it addiction.
It is not that I have anything against the exotic vegetable; it is just that it has caused some of us some embarrassment – by us you know who I mean – due to its distinctive smell. Few years back, I used to give computer training classes in Ethiopian Community center here in DC. The classes weren’t that big, may be a pack of 8 to 10, so I used be almost a close friend to all and they with each other .They never felt they were coming to class but joining in their groupie. One of the students have a very good habit of coming to class early, she even got there earlier than I did some times.
 One day I walked into the class to find this student of mine and the welcoming smell of a well prepared and cooked berbere sauce (Kulet).The first thing that came to my mind was that, she must have brought some food for the class seeing that we were about to finish the training a week later so I said “Jens, Did you bring some food? That is very thoughtful of you” she turned to face me from she was sitting with her right hand still striking the keys on the keyboard and said “I didn't,,,,, why did you say that ?” I wish I bit my tongue but continued saying “It is just that it smells of wot in here” I could see her index finger paused on holding the ‘J’ key for so long making  the frog on Mavis Bacon freeze on the air instead of jumping. She said, with a trembling soft voice, “but I was cooking at my home this morning ...but I had all the doors closed and all windows open…is it that bad ?” right when I was about to say “no” another student walked in  and said “ Emmm Jens  nice wot in here….. you brought us some food yay!!!”  She smiled and told her whole story again.
We spent the first half hour of the class listening to the wot appreciation and Jens supplication as each student came in the class.
Not only small provoking embracement here and there that but also that the smell of onion has become our brand or signal that an abesha is around. For instance when we walk in a elevator or a bus, you can tell if one is around without even looking!!! I swear that I did not come up with this but I heard that it is given a nick name “Yeabesha deodorant”. I have a friend who carries a fabric freshener in his car to use it on any one who hopes in with the Onio-Odor. I thought it was a bit extreme but it is desperate measure.
Let’s think for a moment that we, against all odds, agree to stop using onion in any of our cooking. I mean totally stop, not in Shiro and not even in Doro. I mean dead stop!!! .How long do you think it would take you till you start panicking even from the thought of it? Not so long am sure. It is just impossible because if you really want to enjoy a great Ethiopian food, a delicious bozena shiro or derq tibis ,doro or yeabesha pasta it necessarily needs to be garnished with the prime, if not sole, ingredient - the royal onion. If you want to read my suggestion on how to overcome Onio-Odor click here

Pay attention this is Serious

Since it is impossible to unchain oneself from the use of royal onion from our cooking as leopard change its spots I have decided to share with you some of tricks to avoid the invasion by Onio-Odor.

Tip 1. Close all doors of the bedrooms and open all the windows that are available. It is better to tolerate the cold air than being suffocated with the smell of onion.
Tip 2. Don’t leave your bags, pocket book, jacket or clothing of any kind in the living room or the kitchen area while you are sautéing onion.
Tip 3. Just use oil to sauté instead of the traditional first water then oil procedure.
Pay more attention on the next one
Tip 4. After you are done with the cooking, boil a shampoo that has fragrance. This should be your routine task.
Use a small pan that you will separately use for this purpose
Add small amount of water add the shampoo and put the heat very low so that scent propagate slowly but evenly throughout the house.
The advantage of using shampoo instead of scented candles is that candles are EXPENSIVE and this isn’t. Make sure you get the scent that you would like your house to smell. If your house is carpeted, make it a habit to boil shampoo every now and then. So that the odor residue from the cooking that is left on the carpet is eliminated by the smell of the shampoo scent.

Hope this is helpful

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Only by His Grace

A week ago, I found myself writing about nameless blogging in Ethiopian Orthodox Church. After its publication, one of the comments I got have intriguingly clouted me. At the moment it made me feel a little appalled but as my politically savvy friends once said ,one needs words to think ,to judge ,to criticize and to justify; I did not have the right words and right way of reasoning to express my view about it. It is today, when I was watching a serial killer confession, that it all made sense to me.
Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer among other gruesome things, the detail I really don’t want to specify here. He has murdered 17 men and has been living this horrific life with dark fantasy from the age of 10 till he was arrested at the age of 31.When asked about when he felt guiltiness and remorse he said, it was when he comprehended about Jesus Christ being the creator of all and when he, for the first time, learned about the afterlife. His prior belief on evolution, which defines life as a sudden existence that comes to an end at the point of death, made life so cheap and maximally worthless, he describes. Knowing the creator of life and the world gave a brutal judgment to what he has done and the sorrow he has caused. It was not a shower of words or therapeutic treatment that brought him to his senses and to retrospect with deep regret, but the awakening knowledge of Genesis and the mystery of life in Christ.
Life in Christ is really a mystery, a mystery that cannot be rationally comprehended. Even though we can articulate about Divinity, it’ll ultimately go beyond what we speak. With that notion, Christianity is a mystery. Take the people hunter Paul, who was a devout follower, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; who violently persecuted Christians prior to his conversion. He point blankly confesses his deed. Although Paul did not see Jesus Christ in person we call him the apostle because of his encounter and his absolute conversion. His calling and conversion was a mystery which took place on the road of Damascus upon the vision of the resurrected Jesus Christ.
Orthodoxy, among other Christianity, is most known for keeping its mysticisms till this vintage point. An like other new generation beliefs that consider the body to be shell and valueless, Orthodoxy gives high value to the body since Jesus Christ ,God Incarnate has honored it and took it as His own. For instance the holy liturgy, the Laity will stand for the prayer, see it, touch and kiss the cross and the gospel, smell the incense and partake in the Holy Communion. No sense is left untouched and the senses we have are holy. Therefore our senses are exceedingly compelled to feel his presences as it says in psalm 34: 8.
The mystery does not end there, it goes all the way to the empty tomb .The empty tomb of the resurrected Jesus Christ, the beginning of the end where God reigns, Devil loses, creation is redeemed, , sorrow becomes finite and death is defeated. Looking back at Genesis, the origin of creature will all make sense. The perfection of the order of God’s creation; He brought all non-existing to existing, He made light in the darkness same as He did in His resurrection, and He brought light for those in darkness and salvaged those that were apprehended. The sublime joy that the Risen Lord gives attains a depth in our heart because the life of God has been made the life of man. This profound gift that we are granted is indeed a mystery. It is our baseline to view the world and others; the virtue for our life.
The comment I got was about being fit in the eyes of God and being the rightful one to speak about the matters of the Church. As for Jeffrey Dahmer the question was about salvation and one tiny piece of information gave peace to his mind because he finally faced his guilt and like the penitent thief, who asked Jesus for remembrance ; was purified (made fit) to join Jesus in his kingdom, the same opportunity was given to Jeffrey. This opportunity is given to everyone. Our request should be to get the peace of mind and the serenity in life that opt out judgment but with submission to live by the examples of Jesus Christ and the price He paid for us. This is done by the help of God himself when he grants us his grace. By his grace he makes us fit, by his grace we escape our sorrow by his grace we are purified of our sins. And as it say in act 15:11 “No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” by his grace we are saved.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My "death thing" that made me count my blessing

 

I hate doing memes. I even promised myself that I won’t do it anymore because it makes me feel very self centered. Yet at times I think it could be a good-to-now prevalence even more, for me, a way to reminisce the experience and the lesson I learned from it. You know why? Because I keep on forgetting to count my blessings or the goodness around me and whine about things that I have no control over. So you can stick around and read about it or you can ignore me, after all what do I know and who maked me the advisor about life.
It was in February of 2009 at our home in Addis, I love walking bare foot which wasn’t a very good idea especially on that day because I stepped on a nail that was jutting out a wood stick which I was not aware was laying there. I pulled it out, no blood and no pain but you know what that is right? If you get pricked by a sharp object and if it bleeds it is good but if it does not then it is bad and you have to get a tetanus injection. I went to a clinic – email me if you need the name just in case you want to sue them on behalf of me – to get the shot. So what they normally do is, they make a fairly small circle on the forearm and give you a test shot and if it swells further than the circle then you are allergic to it; if it doesn’t you will get the proper dose. I think the nurse’s orientation for geometry was crappy or she must have missed the class in her nursing school years which apparently was about how big or small the doze or the circle should be, I was allergy free and got my shot and went home.
The next morning I woke up with itching at the back of my neck and ears - I can still feel it. So we decide to go to the clinic where I got my tetanus shot and show them what had happened. The doctor said I was allergic to the tetanus so wrote me prescription to get another shot for the allergy; I went to the merfae kifel and started waiting for my much-loved killer. I waited for around 15 minutes - no one showed up by then the itching has gotten worse and the blemish was all over my neck, shoulder and chest ; it was becoming so unbearable. The doctor saw me when he passed by the merfae kifel and was surprised that I was still there.He then went to call the nurses whom I was hearing giggling and laughing in a room at the end of the hall. They came with such distaste look on their face, the why-did-you-interrupt us look. I got the shot which I really didn't know what it was mixed out of but paid 60 birr for it. She told me, with a queen of England tone, that I would feel dizzy for a while and that I have to rest.
I went home to rest, as told; any way where would I go? I looked like Quasimodo. The itching did not get better instead it got worse. I was surrounded my friends and family who were trying to make me forget the insanely excruciating itch. They used all the psychologically calming words that are available in the Amharic vocabulary አይዞሽ፣ይተውሻል፣አታዳምጭው፣ወሬ አውሪበት ፣ ጨርሶ እስኪወጣ ነው እንጂ ይጠፋል. By the way, without exaggeration and with full confident, I am one of those patients who are obediently non-complaining and easy to handle types who actually make fun of the pain so they were mislead about strength and the severity of the allergy. Now my whole body was itching even my foot sole was itching – that is so ughhh I can’t even describe it.

Tadeos called, he is a friend of mine, a doctor (my angel in disguise); who has been calling throughout the day to check up on me but was not lucky enough to hear a good news from the other end of the phone line. He told me with worried but calming voice that if I have trouble swallowing I have to go to the doctor (ER) immediately. It was not even an a hour later when I started having trouble swallowing and breathing and when all the comforting words stopped having any effect on me. My entire body was covered with red swollen blotches. I got dressed in water soaked shema cloth because I was so exhausted from scratching every inch of my body and hopped-in my mom’s old half alive car and off to some hospital by Bisrat Gebreal. Fortunately there weren’t many people, so we were able to finish my registration quick enough to be seen by the Doctor.
The doctor, who was very soft spoken, full figured and gentle person, started his examination with comforting words. He asked me why I waited this long to come to the hospital and I told him about the whole incident and my personal Adolf Hitler who gave me the shot. He could not believe that I actually got the anti allergy shot. He was sitting across the desk when he asked me if he could give me the shot at that moment and keep me in the observation room, I said ok ; my mom ,who has been with me in the examination  room, agreed too. He asked me to show him my tongue which I did but for some reason I felt my mouth was full when I tried to pull my tongue back. I tried to swallow a couple of times but I could not. I touched my face and mouth but was not sure what I was feeling .I felt like something was holding my head backwards against the wall that is behind the chair I am sitting suddenly my hands dropped on my lap and I was not able to lift them up. I did not know what was happening to me, I struggled and said “ምን እየሆንኩኝ ነው ?”. I saw the doctor rush to where I was sitting and my mom standing in front of me in tears. She kept calling my name “እማዩ እማዩ ወይ ልጄ” I wanted to tell her that I am ok but I could not. I struggled to keep my eyes open and fight off whatever is happening to me. I am normally ትቢተኛ ነገር so that helped for a while but finally I gave up ,everything went dark .The last word I heard was that of my mom's tearful voice “ዶክተር በቃ እንዲህ ነው ? ልጄ የምትሞተው በቃ እንዲህ ነው በቃ በቃ”
I felt I was trapped in a very small space because I could see my own body like a coffin. I was not thinking of death I was not thinking of not going back, I was not thinking about how I would miss life or that I had a lot to do or achieve. I am not sure if I was thinking at all because thinking is that of the flesh not the soul.But all of a sudden I was showered with questions, these questions were all inward it’s first strike was “…how many people have you disappointed and have asked for apology?” it came in as whisper but with a commanding and demanding tone I tried to count but before I answered the second question came “...Have you told your mom that you love her and that you are grateful of what she has done for you?” I again tried to come up with the answer but it seems like this voice knows what I am about to say and made me feel that it was not the right answer or to the right extent making me incapable to put that in words .Before I even try to utter the third one followed “…have you been there for those who needed you?” At that point I just gave up because I can feel the extent of the answer that was expected from me for none of which I had  answers to, felt so weak and helpless. Then suddenly I felt some pushing energy.If you ask me I would say if buoyancy force is to be experienced from inside the body that is what it would feel like.
All I see in front of me is a checkered light green and white shirt and hear the crying call of my mom and the Doctor .As soon as he saw me open my eyes he lifted me like a small baby and off to the IV room ; my mom following him says “እረ ዶክተር አትችላትም !!!”, taking my generous weight into consideration. The whole “death thing” took 15 minutes. I had anaphylactic shock some say it is a miracle that I revived from that.
 See death comes with no warning and no signal it is a second away and always following us where ever we go and we don’t even know about it. Completely unaware and carelessly we live, at least I do. But when that helpless moment comes all the feeling of invincibility and toughness will go away and you would face you and that voice that peeps-in once in a while and which we normally manage to ignore, that voice will stand there on the witness stand saying “I have warned you”.
It might not make sense when I say this but all I want to say is that it is always good to be on the un-guilty side and at least try to make every moment of one’s life un-regrettable by living in peace with all - at least try. Appreciate what you have and don’t whine about what you don’t. Frequently express your admiration, love and respect to the people that are close to your heart because you don’t know when you will stop being able to do so .Cherish the moment no matter how boring it is. Be so true to yourself no matter how much you might hate it and be forgiving no matter how much some people don’t deserve it - at least I feel the same  thing about some people but I force myself not to hate them and remember that they will have their moments with their inner voice too. Any way I better stop my Dr.Phil preaching here or I could go on forever.
So that is it!!!, my “death thing” experience that really made me count my blessing .I thank my God that I am still alive.

Now I have revised it so I think it will last me for the next whatever months.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Anonymous Blogging in the Ethiopian Church

As the inheritors of faith and the Church poised in the brink of the 21 first century ,cyber has become one the major means of communication among the Laity of the Ethiopian Church as result we have a number of blogs about and for the Church .Praise be to God we are able to get news, dialogues and articles a lot more sooner and in a more legitimate way, yet most of these blogs have anonymous owners which has forced many of us to be very skeptical about them, questioning their credibility which made the time it takes for these blogs to be well recognized and accepted more longer than it usually does .When we come to readers of these blogs, a tendency of putting comment as anonymous or using avatar names is very common. So no matter how aggravating and important the issue is, to have an open discourse has become almost impossible making one unable to determine what potential is dependable-participant if change is initiated to happen.

  In its normal occurrence – cyberism, the screen cease to be a medium of communication between real people who exist elsewhere and also a place where we forward our ideas and views regarding an issue, just like we do in real world (in person and face to face interaction).The other occurrence is when a person creates a virtual character in the virtual world as proxies for themselves (avatar), so enabling their controllers to live in complete self-complacency behind the screen without being known. For instance a person can imaginatively use a phrase, name of holiday or a famous person for their avatar.


Causes
As this is not an in-depth researched writing on the original of the various reasons for why people prefer to use an avatar (second life) I would like to point out the most common one which is modesty, playing the biggest role since this has opened a loop to the rivals of the Church to use such methods to distract participants or readers from the topic of the subject that is being discussed by putting a disturbing or unrelated comment. These cyber bugs not only create a diversion but also support the erroneous act and challenges that the Church is facing by putting across their vocabulary decorated words and justifying it, hindering the formation of a strong foundation for open religious discourse that would bring about the desired change. 

I would only like to point out its effect by stating a small example
A manufacturing company might hold an electronic “town hall” where employees and stakeholder can participate from any part of the world. They can use avatars or second life as long as that second life can be linked in to a person meaning an employee or stakeholder and that avatar is a registered user of that virtual conference. The company can deliver the required message to everyone without any miscommunication and misapprehension. But at the end of the day since technology does not provide or grant its reward freely and for the business to be able to utilize the power of machines and manufacturing tool, the workers have to be become part of the machinery and bend their labor in to the discipline. In short what it means is that they have to be physically present to do the work.

 The Ethiopian Church, more than ever, is in need of a voice that says “NO” to all the wrong doings that have gradually worsen. The conflict among the fathers which has led to formation of an exile “synod”, the miscommunication that erupts every now and then at various Bishoprics between Bishops, clergy and the parish members, the abandoning of rural Churches and the flight of clergy because of the lack income, the uninhabited clerical schools, the muddle up administration and Hierarch and a lot more. This can only be attended by speaking up and re-involving in the ground work discipline and as the manufacturing company requires it workers to be physically present at the work place the Ethiopian Church needs a Laity that is spiritually committed, well informed and accountable that is dependable and sensitive about the faith and the well being of the Church. Avatar or Second life fail short on providing that role to the Laity since a real name and real face cannot be attached to the views and comments and discussion made.

Taking the rightful place
 It is undeniable that there are individuals that have given themselves to take up their role on the internal and external challenges that the Church faces, both in real world and cyber.
 For instance Dn Daniel Kibret who we all know for his books, his profound preaching and his invincible stand to the Ethiopian Church has always been an individual who forward his views and forte beliefs openly. And now he has merged the cyber world with the same tone and tune.
His blog has enormous amount of viewers and followers and the time it took the blog to be well know was very short since Dn Daniel Kibret has an established profile in the minds of public.

Even though everyone has differences on aptitude but as the children of the Ethiopian church all has one thing in common and that is the royal priesthood as mentioned in the first epistle of St.Peter, the second chapter and the ninth verse, the Laity has the obligation to take up that rightful place. As a one of progression of such spiritual and revitalized commitment I would like to recommend the following to cyber Ethiopian Church Laity:

1.       Be able to put your proper name because it is the voice of the individual in the voice of a group that actually counts in an ethical religious discourse. It will also suffice a proper flow of discussion rather than one “anonymous” referring to another “anonymous”.
2.        Be able to put proper identity because on doing so the discussion is given proper weight and credibility, as fictitious names are misleading whether a view or comment forwarded is the same person using different names (also known as cyber bugs) or actually a view of different individuals.
3.       Be able not to be very quick-tempered while putting comment no matter how upsetting the issue might be because temper will only stir up strife.
4.       Even though there would be comments that try to agitate the atmosphere, be slow to anger and try to calm the contention.
5.       Be able to always remember that these are not a political but a religious sphere and words have to be chosen wisely.


Longing to here good news